You (i.e. any student) will

a) understand the structure/functioning of catchment ecosystems;
b) acknowledge and be able to apply the catchment continuum concept; the interactions between catchment ecosystems linked by the hydrological cycling of water;
c) be able to appreciate and develop management strategies on the diversity of catchment characteristics within the EU;
d) be able to evaluate human impact on ecosystems and undertake risk assessment;
e) be able to develop tools for catchment management (e.g. GIS);
f) be able to contribute to the implementation of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) in the member states.

The outcome of your studies will be governed by your personal choice and mix of courses – although always within the catchment continuum concept – and the approach of your final thesis project. However, each student must do at least 30 ECTS abroad. This can be achieved through core courses, specialized courses, a project or by thesis.


The Ecocatch Master’s programme includes examples of applied as well as basic research. The structure of the programme is as follows:



Introduction course, all participating teachers and students gather (2 weeks)


Core contents, given at each university, including catchment ecology, WFD, modelling, GIS.
“Specialised” courses, different subjects given at the different universities.


Project, individual or performed in groups.



Thesis. The thesis may be preceded or mixed with shorter specialised courses.

Introduction course

The introductory course is a field based course and it will alternate in rotations across the universities involved, bringing together all students and teaching staff at one location. The course teaches you the basics of the ecological management of catchments, using our own textbook developed for that purpose. Subjects include: introduction to the catchment continuum concept, catchment definitions, the hydrological cycle, fluxes of energy and matter in catchments, water resource management in different European countries, research interests at the different universities, introduction to the selected catchments in the different partner countries and potential thesis topics in individual catchments.

A photo report of the Ecocatch Intensive Program 2008 is now online. You can find it here as both .pdf and .doc.

Core contents

The core content is taught at each university and provides you with the essential background knowledge needed for the remainder of your Master’s programme. The timing of the core content across universities had been coordinated to enable exchange and joint projects. Subjects include:

1. Catchment ecology (terrestrial, aquatic and estuarine ecology, including basic modelling) (8 ECTS)
2. Water framework directive (2 ECTS)
3. Geographical information systems, GIS (6 ECTS)
4. Experimental design (4 ECTS)

The core content is available as separate courses or as part of specialised courses at the different universities within the network. Part of the core content is also available in an e-learning environment to provide the student with maximal flexibility.

Part of the core contents is available in an e-learning environment to provide the student with maximal flexibility. Moreover, the core contents may be done in combination with specialized courses at one or more of the universities within the network. Each university has its own specialization, such that you can specialize on any topic within the ecological management of catchments, depending on your own interests.

Specialised courses

Each university has its own particular expertise, so you can specialise in any topic within the ecological management of catchments, depending on your own interests. Together we cover a wide range of topics within terrestrial and aquatic (freshwater/estuarine/marine) ecology and ecotoxicology.

You can find a summary of all specialised courses provided by the universities of the Ecocatch programme here.

Catchment database/Project

The Ecocatch programme has a large database of catchment information from all the universities involved. You will work simultaneously as a student group or individually on a common topic through this database. The database is on a common server and implemented in an e-learning environment to optimise cooperation between students.

The thesis research can be undertaken in a university research lab or in cooperation with a non-university organisation (e.g. private companies, state/community authorities). If it is done at non-university organisations, the primary supervisor will still be a faculty member of a partner university and the quality of the work will be closely supervised. The final outcome of your study will be governed by the approach of your final thesis project.